Confessions of a Rocket Scientist
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
  Update: My Heart
Since my surgery I have had a few ups and downs, but mostly I am on the road to recovery. I really feel good, but it took a lot of work to get here. And I still have a long way to go. But with God's help and my dear wife's constant care, I think things will be all right.
I'm back at work. There's a bit of adjustment going on since my former boss quit. The new boss has a significantly different vision about software quality and where I can best contribute. I have some reservations about it, but I think I can work with him. We shall see.
I started cardiac rehab in April. This is a program of exercise performed while being monitored. It really wasn't so bad. Believe it or not, I actually enjoyed it. Well, I suppose I could have done without being so tired, but I really felt good when I worked out. I exercised on a treadmill, a stationary bike, a recumbent cross-trainer (called the Nu-Step) and a kind of an arm bike called the Sci-Fit. And I also did some resistance training on the weights. Not bad for somebody who avoided exercise like a tax audit.
Sometime in June I developed atrial fibrillation. My heart rate was high and I had some difficulty with exertion. The doctors had to play with my medication and for a while I was not allowed to exercise. They managed to get my heart rate down to something reasonable, but the fibrillation was still there. So they did a procedure called Electro Cardioversion. They shocked my heart.
It's kind of like where they use the paddles and yell "Clear!" on TV, but they used electrodes instead of paddles and I was asleep for it. It worked. My heart went back into a nice sinus rhythm, but now I had to get my medication re-adjusted. For a while I would get dizzy and came close to passing out, but soon I was feeling quite well.
I felt a big difference in my exercise sessions. I could push myself a little harder, especially on the treadmill. I wasn't exactly running a marathon, but I was moving at a fair clip and feeling quite good.
Unfortunately, during one of my sessions, I passed out.
I don't remember much about actually passing out. I was tooling along on the treadmill, having finished nine minutes of a ten-minute workout, when I was suddenly aware that people had caught me and placed me in a chair. I had no memory of losing consciousness. Fortunately, I was being monitored, and the monitor told the tale. My heartbeat had gone from about 110 to 60. It was like suddenly getting half of the oxygen you needed.
My doctor had an explanation. He called it a double block. Basically, my natural pacemaker was temporarily confused and thought my heart had already beat. This can be caused by an imbalance of the very drugs I was taking. So he took me off Digoxin and cut my Toprol dosage in half.
Since the incident I have not passed out again. I finished my cardiac rehab and am now wearing something called a Cardionet monitor. It's like the Holter monitor only it is worn for ten days and it uses cell phone technology. I have had it for a week, and the first unit they sent me broke down while I was wearing it.
I go on vacation in two weeks.
: )
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The continuing story of a man, his hobby, and the search for a really good cup of coffee.

"The first cup of coffee in the morning recapitulates Phylogeny." -J. Pournelle

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Location: Quakertown, Pennsylvania, United States

Two time cancer survivor, happily married, LaSalle Alumnus

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